A Space You Don’t Forget

A Space You Don’t Forget

Repurposed wood, certified dimensional tile and natural, zero-VOC finishes position new Cincinnati bar for lasting attention

Architects and designers know that designing the perfect bar means creating a unique atmosphere for respite and escape. It must invite, perhaps with warm, dimly lit nooks perfectly suited for comfortable conversation.  It must have an attention-getting focal point, and logical pathways that help customers find their way through the building.

Now add to that a requirement for a natural aesthetic that uses building materials that are better for people and the planet. For the design-build team coordinated by Core One Resources in Cincinnati, OH, this meant reusing floor joists for interior woodwork and wall paneling, restoring salvageable wood floors, laying environmentally certified tile and finishing new and old wood floors with odorless, Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)-free natural oil.

No, the architect explains, this was not done to seek tax abatements through Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) certification. No certification was sought. Is it possible that today’s green building standards have become common practice for the creators of this new, downtown Sixth Street bar, who simply see environmental considerations as the right thing to do?

“You’ve got it,” says Don Beck of Beck Architecture, the project architect. “And in this case, there were huge challenges, some created by us.”

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Most challenging, Beck explains, was creating a three-story atrium that required the removal of about half of the 3-inch by 14-inch floor joists in the building. On another project, these joists might have been headed for the dumpster. But Core Resources sent them to a mill, had them split, and then used them for wall paneling and woodwork throughout the building.

The removal of the joists created potential stability problems and building code issues, so steel beams had to then be installed for proper, lateral support.

“We did save all of the wood we removed,” Beck says.

On two stories, the overwhelming rustic feel of the exposed brick and repurposed wood walls blend naturally into wood floors in rooms, nooks with fireplaces and hallways. Contemporary elements – round, hanging atrium lights, a black steel staircase to the second floor and suspended walkway across the atrium — surround and complement an unforgettable focal point: A custom design in Green Squared certified porcelain tile floor that spans from the entryway and frames the first-floor bar.

The tile design involved cutting six diamonds out of each 12-inch by 24-inch tile used. The dimensional illusion of the tile design was turning heads throughout the construction process.

On a walk-through to get images before construction was complete, there were no typical fumes or odors from floor coatings or other finishes – a rare event in this industry. In a second-floor room, which houses a second bar, the hardwood company was able to refinish the existing pine floor.

“We patched, repaired and filled it to secure it, and we made it look almost new,” says the lead finisher. “Also, Core Resources harvested material from the top level of the building, and we relocated it in the pine space for the repairs, and to extend the flooring into the balcony areas. It was of course the best way to extend the flooring, and have it blend in, despite the layout change.”

On the first floor and in a second-floor hallway,  4-inch plank Oak, which is locally manufactured and sustainably harvested from Appalachian Forests . was installed. All floors were finished with a tinted, plant-based oil finish from the company’s natural floor finishing program. Guidance to the flooring companies was provided by the Natural Interiors® Design Centers program, which provides documentation of low- and zero-VOC products.

In addition to being odorless and zero-VOC, the oil finish was best-suited for this job because of its matte appearance that shows the natural wood grain. This finish also is spot-repairable, so areas that show wear can be recoated without refinishing an entire floor.

Even with workers still tracking in and out as construction was being completed, the floor was not showing scratches or wear like a polyurethane would. It’s a very natural look that seems especially designed for this project.

For architect Beck, there is only one way to describe the sum of the products and design.

“It is a space that you don’t forget,” he says. ©

Nancy Kibbee is editor at naturalinteriors.com

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